Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feliz Ano Nuevo

Sure, this is a little early, but here are wishes for everyone to have a happy new year from the Biscuit Crumbs staff. Nothing as eventful as last year's wishes, though I'll of course share my count again.

A review of my 2009 ...
r 744 blog entries, including this one. That's up from last year's 561.
r 518 stories, including some that have been written but won't appear until next week leading up to Troy's GMAC Bowl showdown with Central Michigan. Those are just the things I saved on my computer. That's up from last year's 464.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oliveras to manage in Mexico

Former Biscuits coach Mako Oliveras has been named the manager of the Mexico City Red Devils. Oliveras managed the Double-A Binghamton Mets this year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Talbot packaged to Tribe

Former Biscuits pitcher Mitch Talbot has been sent from the Rays to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade that netted the Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach. Talbot is out of minor-league options, so he'll have to make the Tribe out of spring training or pass through waivers.

Baseball America's top Rays prospects

Baseball America's list of the top 10 Rays prospects:

1. CF Desmond Jennings
2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
3. RHP Wade Davis
4. LHP Matt Moore
5. SS Reid Brignac
6. SS Tim Beckham
7. RHP Alex Colome
8. LHP Jake McGee
9. LHP Alex Torres
10. RHP Nick Barnese

McGee and Torres should break camp with the Biscuits next year. Moore could, too, but those odds are slim.

BA lists a top 10 now and does a top 30 for its "Prospect Handbook."

We agreed on the top four in the same order and nine of the top 10 with my No. 12 being in their top 10 (Torres). We'll see in the handbook where they have my No. 9 (Kyle Lobstein).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goldeyes continue local links

The Winnipeg Goldeyes kept up their ties to the area this weekend, re-signing shortstop Wes Long, an Auburn native. Long suffered a broken ankle in June that ended his season with a .343 average and 22 RBIs in 41 games. The Goldeyes, part of the independent Northern League, have also re-signed former Biscuits Vince Harrison and Josh Asanovich this fall.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My list of top Rays prospects

Just in time for Baseball America’s rankings, here’s how I’d rank Tampa Bay’s prospects.

I usually warn that my list is likely skewed toward the higher levels because those are the players I’ve seen more, but this has 13 players who’ve yet to see Biscuit-ville. I didn’t include the players who’ve yet to play in the States and don’t claim to have the scouting expertise to rate those who barely played this year.

Last year, I was the only person to NOT have David Price at No. 1, mainly because I called it the Top 30 Rays prospects ... not named David Price.

Feel free to tell me where I’ve accomplished the feat represented in the picture at right, though I hope you’ll recognize some sarcasm in places.

TOP 30 (last year’s ranking)
1. CF Desmond Jennings (11) -- same position as his beloved Tide; imagine if he had some speed
2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (3) -- we forgive him for being from Iowa
3. RHP Wade Davis (1) -- could start 2010 in Tampa Bay’s rotation
4. LHP Matt Moore (14) -- 2-to-1 strikeout-to-HIT ratio at Bowling Green
5. SS Tim Beckham (5) -- All-Star in South Atlantic League as 19-year-old
6. RHP Nick Barnese (12) -- shoulder issue limited him to 15 starts
7. SS Reid Brignac (2) -- hit .282 at Durham, recorded first major-league hit
8. LHP Jake McGee (7) -- big year in his return from Tommy John surgery
9. LHP Kyle Lobstein (NR) -- Rays have gushed over his potential
10. RHP Alex Colome (NR) -- 1.66 ERA, 94 Ks in 76 Hudson Valley innings
11. OF Fernando Perez (4) -- 2009 one to forget after spring injury
12. LHP Alex Torres (NR) -- came over in August trade with Angels
13. OF K.D. Kang (NR) -- surprise Futures Game pick (to me) hit .307 with Rods
14. RHP Aneury Rodriguez (NR) -- rough start turned into decent year
15. LHP David Newmann (NR) -- nice pro debut at high-Class A after missing ‘08
16. RHP Matt Gorgen (NR) -- quick riser hit Double-A barely a year after being drafted
17. SS Shawn O'Malley (NR) -- 40 steals, .388 OBP sparked Stone Crabs
18. RHP Alex Cobb (18) -- 3.03 ERA last year, tons of groundball outs
19. 3B Matt Sweeney (NR) -- slugger also part of August trade with Angels
20. RHP Heath Rollins (15) -- made August conversion to reliever
21. RHP Jason McEachern (NR) -- he, Colome and Lobstein due to see Bowling Green
22. C John Jaso (8) -- .266 average at Durham magnifies defensive deficiencies
23. RHP Jeremy Hall (29) -- was 14-7 at high-Class A at 25 years old
24. RHP Eduardo Morlan (10) -- expect social promotion to Durham
25. RHP Mitch Talbot (9) -- out of minor-league options
26. RHP Dale Thayer (22) -- despite lack of flash, reached majors this year
27. LHP Darin Downs (NR) -- was old for Florida State League, but won ERA title
28. C Nevin Ashley (30) -- would have been off list without AFL performance
29. 2B Cody Cipriano (NR) -- another quick riser, but hit mere .204 with Biscuits
30. RHP Zach Quate (NR) -- eye-popping numbers at short-season Hudson Valley

31. LHP Josh Satow (NR) -- here’s a 31 since we’re not sure if Perez (at 11) qualifies. Satow did well in SAL as a 23-year-old.

DROPPED OUT -- why he dropped
RHP Jeff Niemann (6) -- graduated; was 13-6 with Rays, 11 more wins than the Rice football team
LF Reid Fronk (13) -- struggled mightily (.201, four HRs) in high-A debut
RHP Ryan Reid (16) -- injuries delayed start of year, struggled to recover
LHP James Houser (17) -- released, now with Marlins
RHP Chris Mason (19) -- released, went to Mets
1B Rhyne Hughes (20) -- traded to Orioles
2B Elias Otero (21) -- top player for ’08 Princeton hit .196 for ’09 Renegades
RHP Tyree Hayes (23) -- about to start fifth pro year, just played first at low-A
RF Ryan Royster (24) -- struggled for second straight year at high-A
RHP Jesse Darcy (25) -- also moved to bullpen in August
1B Chris Nowak (26) -- should get another shot at Triple-A
2B Elliot Johnson (27) -- out of options; played just 63 games due to broken hand
CF Emeel Salem (28) -- tough to figure: .206 before July 1, .356 after with Crabs

Friday, December 18, 2009

Time to work on annual top Rays prospects list

Baseball America's is due out Monday and I want to do mine before theirs so you can't accuse me of being unduly influenced. With that, give your recommendations now so I don't think you're unduly influenced by my efforts to stick a foot in my mouth.

Rays miss out on Seattle-bound Bradley

Bad news if you were hoping the Rays would land troubled outfielder Milton Bradley from the Cubs. Chicago has traded him to Seattle for pitcher Carlos Silva. Tampa Bay had been heavily rumored to be interested in Bradley.

Dillon, Shealy ink with Tampa Bay

The Rays have added first baseman Ryan Shealy and re-signed infielder Joe Dillon to minor-league contracts.

Shealy, 30, was in the Kansas City organization last year at Triple-A Omaha, but he didn't play after May 8 because of a knee injury. He has played parts of four seasons in the majors.

Dillon appeared in 15 games with the Rays last year. He primarily played at Triple-A Durham.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ridgway hooks up with Nationals

Former Biscuits pitcher Jeff Ridgway, released by the Braves last spring, has signed with the Washington Nationals.

Boroski named Rays assistant pitching coach

Stan Boroski, the pitching coach for Double-A Corpus Christi in the Houston organization the last three years, has been named Tampa Bay's major-league assistant pitching coach. Boroski replaces Brian Anderson, who will be a color commentator on televised Tampa Bay games that aren't available in the Montgomery market.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Olmedo headed to Rangers

Infielder Ray Olmedo, who hit .250 in 115 games with Triple-A Durham this year, has signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers.

Full Rays minor-league coaching roster

Here's the full stateside roster of coaches for the Tampa Bay minor-league system:

Durham -- manager Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Xavier Hernandez, hitting coach Dave Myers, trainer Rodger Fleming
Charlotte -- Jim Morrison, Neil Allen, Joe Szekely, Chris Tomashoff
Bowling Green -- Brady Williams, R.C. Lichtenstein, Manny Castillo, Scott Thurston
Hudson Valley -- Jared Sandberg, Jack Giese, Reinaldo Ruiz, Andrew Hauser
Princeton -- Michael Johns, Marty DeMerritt, Wuarnner Rincones, Nick Medina
GCL Rays -- Joe Alvarez, Darwin Peguero, Dan DeMent, second coach Hector Torres, Jorge Vargas

Jack Giese is a first-year pro coach after spending the last two years as the pitching coach at Howard College in Texas. Wuarnner Rincones was with Tampa Bay's team in the Venezuelan Summer League the last three seasons, including 2009 as manager. All the others were already with U.S.-based teams in Tampa Bay's system.

The Rays are doubling-up on many of their coordinator positions, too.

Field coordinators -- Jim Hoff, Bill Evers
Pitching -- Dick Bosman, Dewey Robinson
Hitting -- Steve Livesey, Matt Quatraro
Outfield/baserunning -- Skeeter Barnes, by himself
Catching -- Jamie Nelson, by himself

Moloney to be Biscuits' new pitching coach

Bill Moloney, who spent the 2009 season with the high-Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs, will be the pitching coach for the Montgomery Biscuits next year.

Manager Billy Gardner returns for his fourth season and hitting coach Ozzie Timmons and trainer Lee Slagle will spend their second years with the team.

"I'm excited about it," Moloney (right) said. "It's a very challenging level for the players. To me, it's a make-or-break level.

"If you can hold your own or excel at Double-A, the sky is the limit."

Moloney replaces Neil Allen, who was Montgomery's pitching coach the last three years. Allen will coach for the Stone Crabs next year, which will allow him to live at home.

Allen lives in Sarasota, a 25-minute drive from the Stone Crabs' stadium.

"I don't think my wife is going to look forward to seeing me year-round for the first time," Allen joked. "Bobby (their son) will like it, but momma won't.

"She can't stand me six months out of the year. What will she do about 12?"

Next year will be Moloney's 26th as a professional coach and his fourth in the Tampa Bay system.

Before his one year at Charlotte, Moloney worked for two seasons at low-Class A Columbus. He spent the previous six seasons in the Cincinnati organization, including four years with Chattanooga, a Southern League rival of Montgomery's.

"He's a solid pitching guy and has a real good bedside manner," Gardner said. "He's a patient person, which is key."

The Tampa Bay Rays announced their minor-league coaching staffs for the 2010 season today.

The Rays did not renew the contract of former Biscuits coach Ben Oglivie. Oglivie was Montgomery's hitting coach in 2008 and worked with the Gulf Coast League Rays this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cromer, De Los Santos re-sign with Rays

Former Biscuits pitchers Jason Cromer and Richard De Los Santos have re-signed with the Rays.

Tampa Bay announced those and six other signings today. The others were first baseman Chris Richard, right-handed pitchers Winston Abreu, Joe Bateman and Jeff Bennett and left-handers Carlos Hernandez and R.J. Swindle.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Houser, Andrus, Suarez signings

Former Biscuits James Houser, Erold Andrus and Cesar Suarez have found teams for 2010.

Houser is headed to the Florida Marlins, but he still has to serve some time on his 2007 drug suspension.

The left-handed pitcher missed Montgomery's last 16 regular-season games that year for violating the minor-league drug policy. When he went on Tampa Bay's 40-man roster that offseason, he didn't have to finish the suspension. Now, he's back on a minor-league contract and has to do the time. The looming suspension also played a part in Houser not finding a team after the Rays released him this summer.

Andrus, an outfielder, has signed with the San Francisco Giants. He spent last year with the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League.

Suarez, an infielder, was released this summer by the Biscuits and hooked on with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League.

Riggans, Gross out with Tampa Bay

Former Biscuits catcher Shawn Riggans and former Auburn All-American Gabe Gross were non-tendered by the Rays, according to reports. Tampa Bay kept catcher Dioner Navarro after they agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract that matched his salary for 2009.

Orioles non-tender Montgomery's Bass

The Baltimore Orioles did not tender a contract offer to pitcher Brian Bass, a Montgomery native, by Saturday's deadline. Bass was 5-3 with a 4.90 ERA in 48 appearances for the O's this year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bill White signs with Phillies

Alexander City native Bill White, a left-handed pitcher, has signed a minor-league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. White didn't pitch this year and appeared in eight games with the Texas Rangers in 2008.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Soriano, Rays agree on contract

Reliever Rafael Soriano and his new team, the Rays, have agreed on a contract and won't go to arbitration.

The Rays and Braves officially announced the trade today that sent Soriano south. The Rays also announced the one-year contract but not the dollars involved.

Soriano will make $7.25 million, according to the St. Pete Times.

Singleton part of trade, to ride with Railcats

Robert E. Lee High graduate Nick Singleton has been traded from one independent team to another.

Singleton, an American Association All-Star this year for the Sioux City Explorers, will join the Gary SouthShore Railcats of the Northern League next year. Singleton was the "centerpiece" of a "blockbuster" five-player trade, according to the Railcats.

The 26-year-old right-hander, who played at AUM, has worked at Riverwalk for the last few years before the start of the independent season.

Zerpa traded to Dodgers

Pitcher Armando Zerpa, a Rule 5 draft pick of the Rays this morning, has been traded to the Dodgers for cash. It's the fourth time in five years that the Rays have traded a Rule 5 pick.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Davis broadcasting highlights

New Biscuits broadcaster Joe Davis sent along some audio clips. Click here and look to the right -- under the label "file downloads" -- for some highlights in an MP3 format. There's even some football, if you're so inclined ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Gathright signs with Blue Jays?

Rumors swirl that former Biscuits outfielder Joey Gathright has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Two Toronto newspapers have reported it, though one (the Star), has an update that says that Gathright's agent is denying it.

Meet Joe Davis -- Beloit College promotional video

Biscuits choose radio voice

Joe Davis, a soon-to-be graduate of Beloit (Wis.) College, has been hired as the Montgomery Biscuits' broadcaster.

Davis was the manager of media and broadcasting for the independent Schaumburg Flyers last summer. He's also broadcast Beloit basketball and baseball games and will be on the broadcast team this weekend for an NCAA Division III football semifinal game.

The 21-year-old was a four-year member of the Beloit College football team. He was a quarterback as a freshman and sophomore After having shoulder surgery, he played receiver as a junior and senior. Davis was a team captain as a senior.

Davis replaces Jon Laaser, who left Montgomery to become the voice of the Richmond Flying Squirrels after this season.

Wlodarczyk picked by Nationals in Rule 5 draft

Biscuits left-handed reliever Mike Wlodarczyk went to the Washington Nationals today in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

Since it's the minor-league phase, that does not mean Wlodarczyk has to stay in the major leagues all season or be offered back to the Rays.

Tampa Bay was an active picker itself. The Rays grabbed left-handed pitcher Armando Zerpa from Boston in the major-league phase. They also snapped up right-handed pitcher Miguel Sierra from the Cubs in the minor-league phase.

Tampa Bay also lost pitcher Doug Salinas to the Reds in the minor-league phase. Salinas was 5-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 22 appearances this year for short-season Hudson Valley. This was his fourth professional season.

Zerpa, 22, was a combined 2-3 with a 2.68 ERA between two Class A teams this year, his first with a full-season team. He totaled 78 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. Zerpa was a South Atlantic League All-Star after having a 1.20 ERA in 22 appearances with the Greenville Drive.

Sierra, 21, finished 2-2 with a 5.73 ERA between two short-season teams in his fourth pro season.

Wlodarczyk was 1-4 with five saves and a 5.40 ERA in 47 games for Montgomery this year. He reached Triple-A Durham at the end of the season and made one appearance before the International League playoffs. Wlodarczyk turned 27 last week.

Braves closer Soriano headed to Rays

Rafael Soriano is being traded from Atlanta to Tampa Bay, according to reports, which would seemingly fill the Rays' need for a closer.

Soriano made 27 saves last season. He's also due to make big bucks because he's eligible for arbitration. Atlanta offered him arbitration and didn't expect him to take it. When he did, the Braves had a surplus of relievers and needed to trade him.

He's being traded for pitcher Jesse Chavez, who came to Tampa Bay from Pittsburgh in the Akinori Iwamura trade.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lugo to return to Tigers

Former Biscuits pitcher Ruddy Lugo has re-signed with the Detroit Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 4.07 ERA this year at Triple-A Toledo.

Montoyo to pick up award Thursday

Be on the lookout for any pictures of former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo wearing suit and tie Thursday. He's scheduled to pick up his Mike Coolbaugh Award at the winter meetings in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Asanovich stares down Goldeyes, too

Former Biscuits second baseman Josh Asanovich will also return to the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Northern League. The team announced the contract today. Asanovich hit .285 this year and was a league All-Star after being released in the spring by the Rays.

Harrison again has his Goldeye on Winnipeg

Former Biscuits third baseman Vince Harrison has re-signed with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Northern League.

Hernandez, Allen bowed down to Harvey

So, former manager Whitey Herzog and former umpire Doug Harvey are going into the Hall of Fame. Of course, Herzog managed the Cardinals, including a spry right-handed pitcher named Neil Allen.

Harvey, who was called "God" by the players out of respect (and his white hair), called balls and strikes not only for Allen but also a spry right-hander named Xavier Hernandez. (Researching this didn't take as long as I thought it would, thanks to retrosheet and baseball-reference.)

Allen, with Harvey behind the plate ...
5.11 ERA in 12.1 innings/7 games, 15 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts

Hernandez, with Harvey ...
9.82 ERA in 3.2 innings/5 games, 9 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts

Heard this story long ago about Harvey, whose first ejection was Joe Torre in 1962. I can't find confirmation on the rest of this. Torre came out on a nothing call of Harvey's in Harvey's final season. He told Harvey that he had been Harvey's first ejection and, because of his respect for Harvey, also wanted to be his last.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sandberg promoted to Triple-A

I hope everyone got all the Ryne Sandberg autographs they needed this year when he was the manager of the Tennessee Smokies. The Hall of Famer is moving up to Triple-A Iowa next season.

Sandberg, who spent two years at low-Class A before a single season in the Southern League, impressively signs autographs for about 30 minutes before every game.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bennett out so Rays can add Shoppach

Pitcher Jeff Bennett, added last year when the Rays released James Houser, was designated for assignment to make 40-man room for Kelly Shoppach, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Former Biscuit Andrade dealt, too

Former Biscuits pitcher Steve Andrade was also part of a trade today. He and right-handed pitcher James Morrison were dealt from the Grand Prairie Airhogs of the independent American Association to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League in exchange for two players to be named.

Tribe's Shoppach headed to Rays

Catcher Kelly Shoppach has been traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Rays for a player to be named.

The Rays, with a full 40-man roster, will make an additional move today to add him.

Shoppach is a .241 career hitter over five seasons and will complement Dioner Navarro in Tampa Bay. The Rays have diminished expectations for Navarro and a diminished opinion of John Jaso after disappointing seasons.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Alabama-Auburn live blog

4:40: About time to head to the field, so I'll have to leave you with it.

4:36: Alabama will need a championship drive here.

4:29: Let's officially say this is an upset in the making. Auburn up one and has the ball in Alabama territory. If this holds up, there will be severe gnashing of teeth.

4:11: Auburn throws a long touchdown pass and Alabama answers with two field goals. Tigers up 21-20 late in the third. Call it a moral victory for Auburn. Gene Chizik will get credit for the effort. AU's defense is about due for its usual fatigue-laden collapse.

3:13: Halftime. Let us now pause for a moment of silence to remember Mark Ingram's Heisman hopes.

2:54: It's tied.

2:47: Auburn's last three drives: three three-and-outs, zero yards. This will be tied before long.

2:28: Touchdown, Alabama. Mark Ingram wasn't in on the final four plays of that drive. Not sure why. Trent Richardson got three carries, including the touchdown, and caught a pass on the final four plays.

2:22: End of one quarter. Auburn really stuffed it down Alabama's throat early, but that appears to be diminishing. Chris Todd missing an open Tommy Trott on two straight plays could turn things.

2:09: Didn't Auburn jump out to a 14-0 lead at Georgia two weeks ago? How did that one turn out?

2:05: Alabama's Justin Woodall may be drawn and quartered after his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty led to that touchdown. He personally turned a third-and-11 into a third-and-three for the Tigers. Easy to call that penalty, too.

2:03: Oh well. AU up 14-nil. Now, the Tigers need a safety before the Tide's 37-point run.

2:02: If Auburn misses this extra point and Alabama scores 37 straight points, my prediction might still be correct.

1:53: Auburn acts like it's Halloween -- trick or treat. Two straight trick plays after an onsides kick after taking a 7-0 lead. Gutsy.

1:37: The evil people have entered the field.

You've been spared such football crapola from this blog this year, but I can't hold off today. It's the Alabama-Auburn game where fans (of both sides) put their life's worth on the line watching a football game.

10:24: My prediction -- Alabama 37, Auburn 16.

Check back later for more musings on today's titanic tilt/annual Armaggedon.

12:21: Just got back from a walk around campus with Advertiser AU star reporter Jay G. Tate, who visited some fans of his blog, Ventured from there to see what interesting fans I could find. Within a block of each other, there was a surprise party for Atlanta's Dana Sweeney's 50th birthday and a 21st birthday party for Auburn junior Morgan King of Huntsville.

"I'm going out tonight, downtown, and go to bars I've never been able to go to," said King, who admitted she wouldn't let the game detract from her day.

"I hope Auburn wins, but I really don't care," she said. "I'm still going to have fun."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ashley homers in Phoenix's AFL title game loss

Former Biscuits catcher Nevin Ashley homered and finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the Phoenix Desert Dogs' 5-4 loss to the Peoria Javelinas in today's Arizona Fall League championship game.

Peoria took the lead in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run home run by C.J. Retherford, who was with the Birmingham Barons this year.

Biscuits shortstop-to-be Shawn O'Malley was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Former Biscuits pitcher Mitch Talbot, who started for Phoenix, allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in three innings

Friday, November 20, 2009

Biscuits to play for AFL championship

Former Biscuit Mitch Talbot will be the starting pitcher Saturday when the Phoenix Desert Dogs, whose roster includes several Biscuits, face the Peoria Javelinas for the Arizona Fall League championship Saturday.

The first pitch is at 1:35 p.m. and will be televised by the MLB Network.

Stats former Biscuits, current Biscuits and a future Biscuit who are on the Dogs' active roster ...
C Nevin Ashley -- .366 average, 14 RBIs in 18 games
SS Shawn O'Malley -- .313, 15 runs in 20 games
RHP Matt Gorgen -- 10.38 ERA in 8.2 innings
RHP Paul Phillips -- 4.82 ERA in 9.1 innings
RHP Heath Rollins -- 8.03 ERA in 12.1 innings
RHP Mitch Talbot -- 3-0, 4.37 ERA in six starts/22.2 innings

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rhyne Hughes protected by Orioles

While we're at it, Baltimore has put former Biscuits first baseman Rhyne Hughes on its 40-man roster. He hit .279 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs between the Biscuits, Durham and Norfolk. Hughes was one of six added by the Orioles.

Torres also added to 40-man roster

Pitcher Alex Torres, who finished the season with the Biscuits after being traded from the Los Angeles Angels, has also been added to Tampa Bay's 40-man roster.

The Rays announced today that Torres, Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond Jennings were now on the major-league roster. That shields all three from next month's Rule 5 draft.

Torres made just two starts for the Biscuits and was a combined 13-6 with a 2.77 ERA between three teams this year.

That puts the Rays at the 40-man limit -- so no Rule 5 pick this year, barring a future move -- after they had 43 Wednesday. Take off two retiring pitchers, two pitchers who've filed for free agency and a pitcher and catcher whose options the Rays declined to pick up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hellickson, Jennings put squeeze on Rays' roster

Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and outfielder Desmond Jennings become members of the players union this week when the Rays finalize their 40-man roster and add them to it. The deadline is Friday.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the Rays will need to cull one more player from their list to have room for those two.

By Friday, they can have only 40 people on their 40-man roster. (Right now, there are 43 because players on the 60-day DL don't count against it. Starting Friday, they do count.)

The team has already declined options on pitcher Brian Shouse and catcher Gregg Zaun. Pitchers Jason Isringhausen and Troy Percival are likely to retire. (I've heard Isringhausen will help coach a high school team near St. Louis.)

That knocks it down to 39. Who else will go? (I'd guess Chad Bradford, but I know nothing, nothing. Bradford and Russ Springer have filed for free agency.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Montoyo wins Coolbaugh award

Former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo has won the Mike Coolbaugh award, given by Minor League Baseball in recognition of someone's work ethic, baseball knowledge and mentoring skill.

It's the second year for the award, which is named for Mike Coolbaugh, the minor-league coach killed after being struck by a line drive during a game. Montoyo will be honored at the winter meetings next month in Indianapolis.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Niemann fourth in AL rookie voting

Former Biscuits pitcher Jeff Niemann finished fourth in the American League rookie of the year voting.

Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey won with Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus -- brother of former Biscuits outfielder Erold Andrus -- second and Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello third. White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham, the former University of Georgia All-American who started the year with the Birmingham Barons, was fifth, behind Niemann.

Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan won the National League's rookie award. Coghland played last year for Double-A Carolina in the Southern League. Alabamian Colby Rasmus of the St. Louis Cardinals received one third-place vote.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Longoria wins AL Gold Glove

Former Biscuits third baseman Evan Longoria won an American League Gold Glove today for the Rays.

"It’s the one award that I’ve wanted to win since I started pro ball," Longoria said in a release. "I take a lot of pride in my defense, so this award is very special to me."

Longoria, who recently turned 24, is the second Tampa Bay player to win a Gold Glove: first baseman Carlos Pena in 2008. He's also the youngest Gold Glover since Oakland's Eric Chavez won it in 2001 as a 23-year-old.

Lookouts win award for promotions

The Chattanooga Lookouts have won the Larry MacPhail Trophy, which recognizes the team with the top promotions in the minor leagues. They'll receive the trophy next month at the winter meetings in Indianapolis.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Rays exercise option on Crawford, pick up Ramirez

All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford will be with the Rays in 2010 after the team today exercised its $10 million option for next season.

The Rays also claimed right-handed pitcher Ramon Ramirez off waivers from Cincinnati. The 27-year-old appeared in 11 major-league games this year with a 3.65 ERA in 12.1 innings. He was 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA at Triple-A Louisville.

The team also declined its options on relief pitcher Brian Shouse and catcher Gregg Zaun. Zaun came to Tampa Bay this year in a trade that sent former Biscuit Rhyne Hughes to the Orioles.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Gathright off Boston 40-man roster

Former Biscuits outfielder Joey Gathright has been outrighted by the Boston Red Sox, according to multiple reports. He'll likely become a free agent.

Jennings lands Topps award for Southern League

Former Biscuits center fielder Desmond Jennings has been named the Topps player of the year for the Southern League.

Jennings, who was the league's most valuable player, hit .316 with 37 steals and 69 runs scored in 100 games for Montgomery. He was promoted in late July to Triple-A Durham.

The Rays also had the top Topps player in the New York-Penn League. Right-handed pitcher Alex Colome was 7-4 with a 1.66 ERA in 15 starts. He gave up 46 hits and had a league-high 94 strikeouts in 76 innings. Colome, 20, was the only pitcher among the 16 league players of the year.

The Rays were one of three major-league teams to have multiple minor-league winners. The awards were announced today.

Rays make minor-league staff changes

The Rays will have extra roving instructors for their minor-leaguers next year.

r Bill Evers, former longtime manager at Triple-A Durham, will be a co-field coordinator with Jim Hoff.

r Matt Quatraro, who managed low-A Bowling Green this year, will be a co-hitting coordinator with Steve Livesey.

r Dewey Robinson has been hired as a co-pitching coordinator with Dick Bosman. Robinson has worked for the Houston Astros the last 13 years, including as the major-league pitching coach the last two seasons.

Skeeter Barnes and Jamie Nelson are back -- and will fly solo -- as the outfield/baserunning and catching coordinators, respectively.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Rays trade Iwamura to Pirates

Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for pitcher Jesse Chavez.

Chavez, a right-hander, led all major-league rookies with 73 appearances last season. He was 1-4 with a 4.01 ERA. The 26-year-old had a 3.19 ERA before the All-Star break.

Iwamura missed three months with a knee injury this year and played three seasons with Tampa Bay. He hit .290 with 22 RBIs in 69 games this year.

The trade means the Rays will have an open spot in the lineup to be decided in spring training. The battle will include former Biscuita Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez, recently acquired from the Angels.

Rent payment finishes off down season for Biscuits

With the final rent payment for fiscal year 2009, the Biscuits marked the end of their worst season as far as revenue.

The team paid $133,399.87 to the city for the quarterly rent payment that was due at the end of October, according to city records. That brings the rent for the full year to $403.676.08.

Montgomery drew just 266,818 fans this year, the smallest total since the team came to town in 2004. That also led the team to have its worst year as far as concessions sales -- $1,160,365.86. Also, for the first time, the team's operating revenue in those areas covered by the rent agreement was less than $5 million.

The team has paid more than $3.9 million in rent since the $26 million Riverwalk Stadium opened in 2004. Rent is based on a percentage of sales and revenue at the stadium.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Troy linebacker attacks reporter in press box

Yep, deviating from the usual Biscuits drivel for once.

Troy linebacker Bear Woods (left) visited the press box at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium a few minutes ago and gave Dothan Eagle writer Drew Champlin a special greeting. Moments after this photo, Woods strangled Champlin.

(OK, it's actually Troy videographer Aaron Taylor who dressed up as Woods for Halloween. Also, that's Drew Champlin dressed up as Champlin. It -- Champlin's -- may be the disguise of the day.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Biscuits search for new radio voice

For a second straight offseason, the Biscuits are searching for a radio voice.

Jon Laaser has left the Biscuits to join the Richmond Flying Squirrels, a Double-A team that is starting play in Virginia next year.

Biscuits general manager Greg Rauch said he has already received about 50 applications and expects more during Montgomery’s search. He said the search won’t be completed until at least December at baseball’s winter meetings in Indianapolis.

“We’re happy for Jon, but this was a great opportunity with an ownership group he’s familiar with,” Rauch said. “We hate to see him leave, and he did an outstanding job.”

The Flying Squirrels were the Connecticut Defenders last year and are members of the Eastern League. Laaser came to Montgomery last offseason after spending one year with the Class A team in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Morse released; Rays give up on Gibson

Biscuits pitcher Ryan Morse has been released by the Rays, who also cut loose the player they landed in exchange for Elijah Dukes.

Pitcher Glenn Gibson never advanced past low-Class A. Baseball America reported the moves today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Former Biscuits coach honored in Puerto Rico

Former Biscuits hitting coach Mako Oliveras was inducted into the Puerto Rico sports hall of fame on Sunday. Can't say I've ever seen Mako wearing a tie.

Kapler re-ups with Rays

Outfielder Gabe Kapler will return to the Rays after he and the team reached terms on a one-year contract for 2010.

The 34-year-old hit .239 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 99 games this year. Next season will be his 12th in the major leagues.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

BA draft report card: Rays did well*

The Rays did a good job with their 2009 draft according to Baseball America (subscription required).

*--despite not signing first-round pick LeVon Washington and second-rounder Kenny Diekroeger.
It's hard to have a great draft without signing your top two draft picks, but that's what happened to Tampa Bay this year.
Pitcher Zach Quate is the player closest to the major leagues, according to BA, so we'll say he's the favorite to first reach the Biscuits.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shelton joins Rays as hitting coach

Derek Shelton, the hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians the last five years, has been hired to do the same for the Rays.

During Shelton's time, the Indians were fifth in the majors in runs scored, seventh in batting average, third in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Does Gross' count matter with metal?

At Jordan-Hare Stadium today for the Kentucky-Auburn game. Found out that Gabe Gross was swinging metal for his 26-homer total in Friday's home run derby. Does that count?

Gross wins Auburn home run derby

Tampa Bay outfielder Gabe Gross crushed 26 home runs to win the Auburn home run derby on Friday at Plainsman Park.

Gross, a former All-American for the Tigers, hit 15 homers in the first round, tying current Auburn player Kevin Patterson, and added 11 in the final round. Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson, Frank Sanders and Todd Jones were among those that had to bow down to Gross.

The event raised $5,044.75 for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rays announce spring training schedule

The Rays will have 15 games in Port Charlotte, Fla., between March 4 and April 1. Ticket prices range between $8 and $25 and single-game tickets go on sale in January.

Tampa Bay will have a game April 2 at Tropicana Field against the New York Mets before jetting off to face the Triple-A Durham Bulls on April 3. The regular season opens April 6 when the Rays host the Orioles.

Spring workouts start Feb. 19.

3 at Baltimore
4 Baltimore
5 at N.Y. Yankees
6 Boston
7 at Philadelphia
8 Pittsburgh
9 at Baltimore
10 at Boston
11 split squad: Toronto, at Pittsburgh
12 Philadelphia
13 Florida
14 Toronto
15 off
16 Boston
17 Minnesota
18 at N.Y. Yankees
19 N.Y. Yankees
20 Minnesota
21 split squad: at Minnesota, at Pittsburgh
22 at Boston
23 at Philadelphia
24 Toronto
25 Minnesota
26 at Toronto
27 at Houston
28 Pittsburgh
29 at Boston
30 Boston
31 at Minnesota
1 Baltimore
2 N.Y. Mets (at Tropicana Field)
3 at Durham

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Auburn derby includes big names

Auburn is having a home run derby Friday to benefit charity and is pulling out some big guns.

Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson, David Ross and Gabe Gross will take some swings. So will former AU receiver Frank Sanders and major-league veteran/longtime Auburn fan Todd Jones.

A nine-inning scrimmage by the current Auburn team follows. The swings begin at 6 p.m. Friday and gates open at 5. Admission is a minimum $1 donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hot Rods win with 'What Could've Been'

The Bowling Green Hot Rods won Minor League Baseball's promotion of the year with their "What Could've Been" Night. The Hot Rods pulled 51 percent of almost 24,000 fan votes cast for a group of 10 finalists.

Bowling Green spent its Aug. 15 game pondering "what could've been" had the team been named the Cave Shrimp, one of the other finalists for the team's nickname. There was also what if Christian Laettner had missed his 1992 NCAA tournament shot against Kentucky. (For one, I would have won my pool that year.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CNN: Lowder no fan of Biscuits

A CNN profile of the infamous Bobby Lowder and Colonial Bank's downfall includes that he apparently doesn't include the Biscuits among his city entertainment options.

In 2004, Montgomery got a new minor-league baseball team called the Biscuits. A Colonial marketing executive bought a few season tickets to use with clients. A few days later, while on a business trip, he got a call from his boss. She asked whether he'd bought Biscuits tickets, and when he said yes, she told him to return to Montgomery. "Will I have a job when I get there?" he asked. "No," was the response. Mr. Lowder, he was told later, didn't like the Biscuits.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Anyone remember Corwin Malone?

Corwin Malone, a Thomasville native and formerly a pitcher with the Birmingham Barons, is now playing football for South Alabama's first-year program. He played in the minors for nine years.

Bulls will party over Triple-A title

The Durham Bulls will celebrate their Triple-A championship with an Oct. 21 event at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

infielders Elliot Johnson and Chris Richard will take part.

The first 500 fans can have their pictures taken with the team's league and Triple-A championship trophies and will receive a commemorative team photo. The field will be open for fans to play catch and the gift shop will be open, with 50 percent off select items.

The event runs from 6-8 p.m. Eastern.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cubs target Rays for Bradley trade

The Cubs, searching to rid themselves of Milton Bradley, are focused on the Rays as a trade partner and want a quick deal, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Now, we're No. 198!!! Hip, hip, hooray

The Sporting News' annual rankings of the best sports cities has Montgomery at 198th of 399.

In the Southern League, it's Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill is 17, Jacksonville 50, Knoxville 80, Birmingham 122, Mobile 152, Chattanooga 185, Jackson (Miss.) 202,
Huntsville 275 and Jackson (Tenn.) 323.

Others inside the state include Tuscaloosa at 57, Auburn 88, Troy 104, Jacksonville 224 and Talladega 265. Pittsburgh is No. 1.

The Sporting News has us five spors higher than the Sports Business Journal did in August on a list of minor-league markets.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Henderson out as Tampa Bay hitting coach

Steve Henderson, who has been the Rays' batting coach for five seasons and spent the previous eight as the team's minor-league hitting coordinator, will not return for the 2010 season.

The Rays announced today that Henderson's contract would not be renewed, but pitching coach Jim Hickey, third-base coach Tom Foley, first-base coach George Hendrick, bench coach Dave Martinez and bullpen coach Bobby Ramos will return. The team is also eliminating the position of quality assurance coach.

In 2004, when Henderson was the minor-league hitting coordinator, he was part of an odd scene at Riverwalk Stadium. The Biscuits played one of their morning games and had a listless performance. Henderson put the team through postgame batting practice.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Hendu, 3 other former Biscuits win independent title

Brian Henderson (hidden by beard at right) and three other former Biscuits celebrated winning the independent Atlantic League championship tonight.

Jason Standridge, a former Auburn football signee who rehabbed with the Biscuits in 2004, threw a five-hitter in the Somerset Patriots' 11-1 clinching win over the Southern Maryland Stone Crabs.

Former Biscuits pitchers Jim Magrane and Travis Minix also bolstered Somerset's chances. Outfielder Jeremy Owens, also formerly in Montgomery's uniform, was on the losing side.

Friday, October 02, 2009

3 Hot Rods picked among top South Atlantic prospects

Pitcher Matt Moore, shortstop Tim Beckham and pitcher Nick Barnese were among the top 20 prospects this year in the South Atlantic League, as named by Baseball America. Moore ranked third, Beckham fifth and Barnese 16th.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Biscuits set game times, finalize promotions

The Biscuits have set their game times for the 2010 season -- your morning tilts, complete with thousands of school children, are April 27, May 5 and May 11 -- and announced their promotions schedule.

You can find a link to the full schedule at the right (though no gametimes), but here are the promotional highlights. All other Monday-Saturday game times are 7:05 p.m. Sunday games are at 2:05, except for a July 4 6:05 and a July 25 5:05. Here are the promotions:

8: fireworks, magnet schedule
9: Myron Noodleman, magnet schedule
10: fireworks, magnet schedule
24: Evan Longoria bobblehead
25: Bark in the Ballpark
27: morning start

5: morning start
7: giveaway TBA
8: Autograph Day, fireworks, Boy Scouts Camporee
11: morning start
13: 80s Night,
The Spicolis postgame concert
14: morning start, appearance by former Braves great Dale Murphy (sorry, I say no Hall of Fame for Murph)
28: fireworks
29: fireworks
30: mascot Big Mo's birthday party

5: circus night, Girl Scout Camporee
10: Jimmy Buffett Night, postgame concert
11: fireworks
12: Military Appreciation Night, fireworks
25: (oh, goodness) Michael Jackson Tribute Night, with Christopher and his King of Pop puppets (can't find a link for that one)
26: Family Faith Night, fireworks

4: fireworks
9: Family Faith Night, postgame concert
10: Autograph Day, fireworks
23: Tampa Bay Rays Night
24: fireworks

6: Country Night, fireworks
20: fireworks
21: Auburn/Alabama Night -- team shows bias again
27: fireworks
28: charities night, jersey auction, fireworks

2. Fan Appreciation Night, fireworks

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Biscuits boosters to have first offseason meeting

The Biscuits Booster Club will gather Monday at Riverwalk Stadium for its first meeting of the offseason. It starts at 7 p.m. in the home clubhouse. The boosters will elect officers for the 2010 season.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book it: Rays will sweep Boston in April 2010

I'm watching FlashForward's series debut on ABC right now. (You may have caught a commercial or two dozen lately.) In it, everyone in the world blacks out and has a vision of what they'll be doing on April 29, 2010.

One of the main characters saw himself, umm, on the throne as he read a newspaper (fine choice). He remembers reading where the Rays rallied from a three-run deficit to finish a sweep of Boston. Also, Kobe Bryant had blown out his knee.

The Rays do play at Fenway in April 2010, but it's April 16-19, so maybe it was an old paper -- or this show is a work of fiction.

April 19, 2010, 1:45 p.m. update: Rays finish sweep of Red Sox

St. James grad top pitcher for Rookie team

St. James graduate Brandon Kloess has been named the pitcher of the year for the Great Falls Voyagers, the Rookie-level Pioneer League affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

Kloess was 2-0 with four saves and a 2.43 ERA for the Voyagers this year, his first in professional baseball. He totaled 72 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings.

The 24-year-old right-hander was also named to the Pioneer League's end-of-season All-Star team. Kloess, who played in college at Florida Atlantic, signed this year as a non-drafted free agent.

Stokes takes break from Mets for child's birth

Former Biscuits pitcher Brian Stokes took a few days off from the New York Mets to be with wife Sarianna for the birth of a baby boy. Brody Alexander made his debut Wednesday afternoon, according to the New York Daily News.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Braves manager to retire after 2010 season

Atlanta's Bobby Cox, the 69-year-old who is now finishing his 26th year as a major-league manager, said today that he'll retire after the 2010 season.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Durham needs 11 to win Triple-A championship

Rashad Eldridge scored on a wild pitch with none out in the 11th to give the Durham Bulls a 5-4 win over the Memphis Redbirds in the Triple-A championship game in Oklahoma City.

Catcher Michel Hernandez doubled to lead off the 11th and Eldridge pinch-ran for him. Eldridge moved to third on a wild pitch and, after an intentional walk, scored on another wild pitch to win it.

Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson threw five shutout innings, while Desmond Jennings was 3-for-5 for the Bulls. Sean Rodriguez homered and Ray Olmedo was 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and an RBI.

Mitch Talbot threw a perfect top of the 11th for the win.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hellickson starts against Memphis' Garcia

Both the Durham Bulls and Memphis Redbirds will start pitchers Tuesday who weren't with them for long this season.

Durham's Jeremy Hellickson was with the Biscuits until the end of July. Jaime Garcia made just four starts after returning from an injury. Garcia, who made 10 major-league appearances for the Cardinals last year, was 2-0 in four starts. He threw 12 shutout innings in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bulls to host viewing party; Montgomery ???

The Durham Bulls organization will host a viewing party to watch their Bulls play the Memphis Redbirds in the nationally televised, one-game Triple-A championship from Oklahoma City. It's at Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom, which sounds like a fine place to eat.

No word on whether Montgomery will have such a viewing party, considering that many of the Bulls were once Montgomery Biscuits. Maybe there is an industrious group out there somewhere that might be interested.

The game starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday and will be shown on ESPN2.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hellickson scheduled to start Tuesday for Bulls

Jeremy Hellickson is the scheduled starter Tuesday when Durham plays in the nationally televised Triple-A championship game.

The Bulls will face either the Memphis Redbirds or Sacramento RiverCats. Memphis has a 2-0 lead entering tonight in the Pacific Coast League championship series.

Wiegand wins Rays community service award

Ryan Wiegand won the Erik Walker Community Champion Award, which recognizes a Tampa Bay minor leaguer for teamwork, sportsmanship and community service.

Erik Walker was a Rays minor-league pitcher who died in October 2006 in a canoeing accident. He had just finished his first professional season.

Wiegand, who was a 25th-round draft pick this year and played for Rookie-level Princeton, receives $2,500 for the charity of his choice. The 22-year-old was a key participant in a reading and nutrition program at two Princeton-area elementary schools. He also helped spread the program to a school in a neighboring county. Wiegand was also one of four Princeton players featured on an anti-tobacco poster.

Wiegand "was easily our most active player in community activities," Princeton general manager Jim Holland said.

Finalists from Tampa Bay's other six affiliates will have $500 donated to the charity of their choice.
Durham: Alex Jamieson
Montgomery: Paul Phillips
Charlotte: Darin Downs
Bowling Green: Anthony Scelfo
Hudson Valley: Chris Murrill
GCL: Lucas Nakandakare

Biscuits catcher Matt Spring won last year's Walker Award and Patrick Cottrell was the 2007 winner.

Jennings, Hellickson take top Tampa Bay honors

Outfielder Desmond Jennings and pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, who spent most of the season with the Biscuits, won Tampa Bay's top minor-league awards this year.

Jennings, the Southern League's most valuable player, was the Rays' player of the year and Hellickson was the pitcher of the year.

Jennings hit a combined .318 between Montgomery and Triple-A Durham with 11 home runs, 62 RBIs and 92 runs scored. He had a .401 on-base percentage and was 52-of-59 on steals. The 22-year-old is from Pinson Valley.

Hellickson was a combined 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 114 innings between Montgomery and Durham. He held hitters to a .178 average and averaged 10.42 strikeouts per nine innings. The 22-year-old missed six weeks with a shoulder strain.

Durham: OF Jon Weber
Montgomery: CF Desmond Jennings
Charlotte: LHP Darin Downs
Bowling Green: LHP Matt Moore
Hudson Valley: RHP Alex Colome
Princeton: OF Cody Rogers
GCL: RHP Wilmer Almonte
Dominican: OF Edward Dorville
Venezuela: IF Hector Guevara

Some stats from the Dominican and Venezuela winners (the others have been previously chronicled here) ...

Dorville hit .304 with 37 RBIs and 44 runs scored. He led the Dominican Summer League with a .549 slugging percentage and paced the team in hits, home runs (nine), triples (six) and runs scored. He's 20 years old.

Guevara, 17, had a .330 average to rank fifth in the Venezuela Summer League with eight homers and 36 RBIs. His .534 slugging percentage was fourth in the league.

Rays change awards, which start trickling out

Those guesses won't count since the Rays have changed how they give the minor-league awards.

All of them aren't out yet, but Darin Downs won Charlotte's most valuable player award, according to a Crabs release.

Charlotte shortstop Shawn O'Malley was the organization's best baserunner, Nevin Ashley the best defensive player and Matt Gorgen the best relief pitcher.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Line drive that hit Downs measured at 103 mph

Here's a better story about Biscuits pitcher Darin Downs, from St. Pete Times columnist John Romano.

Downs will be at the Trop on Friday for the minor-league awards and will be named Charlotte's pitcher of the year.

Durham wins International League championship

John Jaso doubled home Elliot Johnson in the 12th inning to give the Durham Bulls a 3-2 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and an International League championship series sweep.

Calvin Medlock picked up the win with two innings of shutout relief, while starter Jason Cromer had his second quality start of the postseason. He allowed two runs on four hits and four walks in six innings.

The Bulls overcame a 2-0 deficit when Desmond Jennings hit a two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning. It's Durham's third title in eight years.

(Every player mentioned is a former Biscuit.)

Durham will play Tuesday in the one-game Triple-A championship in Oklahoma City. The Bulls will face the Pacific Coast League champion. Memphis has a 2-0 lead over Sacramento in the best-of-5 series, which continues Friday in Sacramento.

Davis pitches shutout in third career start

The Baltimore Orioles outkicked their coverage tonight with Wade Davis, who threw a four-hitter in the Rays' 3-0 win at Camden Yards for his first major-league victory.

Davis walked two, struck out 10 and threw 80 of his 124 pitches (124?!?) for strikes. (His previous season high for pitches was 111, if you're curious.)

Davis, who worked out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the first, retired the last 10 hitters he faced, including striking out the side in the ninth.

Not too shabby for his third career major-league start.

No Kanye West sighting for these awards

The minor-league awards season continues at, which handed out its Arpy Awards on Monday for Tampa Bay's best affiliate, best season (hitter and pitcher), most surprising and most disappointing players, best 2009 draftee and best under-the-radar season.

Today, the New York Mets officially lauded former Biscuits outfielder Jesus Feliciano as the most valuable player at Triple-A Buffalo. Former Rays draft pick Ike Davis, who chose to go to Arizona State and was the Mets' first-round pick last year, won the organizational player of the year.

The Rays will name their organizational awards in a pregame ceremony Friday.

Downs on road to recovery after being hit by liner

Biscuits pitcher Darin Downs says he's doing well, a month after being hit just above the left ear. He has a weekly CAT scan and sees a neurosurgeon every two weeks. (Full story here.)

Downs spent nine days, including two in ICU, at Birmingham's St. Vincent's Hospital after being hit Aug. 17.

His fiancee, Christy DeFelice, was with him the entire time and, with the outpouring of support Downs received, "was basically my secretary." They're getting married Nov. 14 and going to Jamaica for their honeymoon.

"She was taking all the calls, on her phone, my phone, Facebook," Downs said.

The Rays major leaguers sent a card, the rest of the Biscuits were calling and so were his former teammates with the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs.

"I got so many cards in the hospital and when I got home," Downs said. "They'll be saved somewhere. I'll find a spot for them."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yankees down Crabs for Florida championship

David Adams was 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the Tampa Yankees' 5-2, Florida State League championship-winning victory over the Charlotte Stone Crabs tonight.

Drew Anderson knocked in Charlotte's runs with singles in the sixth and eighth innings. Starter Brian Flores took the loss, allowing one unearned run in three innings. Reliever Tommy Rafferty gave up three runs in two innings. The Yankees led 4-0 after five innings.

Eldridge, Bulls grab 2-0 lead in title series

Rashad Eldridge was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored as the Durham Bulls pulled within one win of an International League championship with a 4-1 victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

The Bulls will try for a three-game sweep Thursday at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Eldridge doubled home Desmond Jennings to tie the game 1-1 in the fourth inning, homered with one out in the sixth to give Durham the lead, and added an RBI double and scored in the eighth.

My Tampa Bay minor-league award guesses

I finally had some time to finish my guesses on who will win Tampa Bay's minor-league organizational awards. The Rays pick an overall pitcher and position player of the year and name a pitcher and position player from each affiliate. The overall winner will not also win a team award.

I had about half done a few days ago, but football tends to get in the way of a lot of things this time of year. The Rays also named winners from their Dominican and Venezuelan teams. I won't venture a guess on those.

Overall: Darin Downs
Durham: Winston Abreu*
Montgomery: Jeremy Hellickson
Charlotte: Jeremy Hall
Bowling Green: Matt Moore
Hudson Valley: Alex Colome
Princeton: Joey Dettrich
GCL: Jacob Partridge

Overall: Desmond Jennings
Durham: Jon Weber
Montgomery: Chris Nowak
Charlotte: Cody Cipriano
Bowling Green: K.D. Kang
Hudson Valley: Tyler Bortnick
Princeton: Ryan Wiegand
GCL: Gerardo Olivares

*--Durham said Abreu was its pitcher of the year last week.

If Hellickson wins the overall (and he may), I'd say Aneury Rodriguez gets the Montgomery award based on how well he was the last few months. I'd say Paul Phillips is close behind, though. Then, Florida State League ERA champ Downs takes Charlotte and pushes out Hall.

As always, feel free to tell me where I'm wrong. Just do it before the Rays announce the winners. (Ah, college football fans. They tell you after the game that they knew you were wrong. Heck, it's easy to do afterward. Tell me before the game.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Newmann, Crabs set up one-game showdown for title

David Newmann didn't allow a hit until the seventh inning and the Charlotte Stone Crabs forced a one-game showdown for the Florida State League championship with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Yankees.

The fifth -- and final -- game of the series will be Wednesday in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Greg Sexton hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to put the Crabs ahead.

David Adams singled to lead off the seventh against Newmann, who took a two-hit shutout into the ninth. He left with two outs in the ninth, having allowed four hits. Richard De Los Santos got the final out and the save.

In his last nine starts of the year, Newmann was 6-0 with a 1.08 ERA. He had a career-high 10 strikeouts in his previous playoff start.

Hellickson helps Bulls claim Game 1

Jeremy Hellickson took a shutout into the seventh to lead the Durham Bulls in a 4-1 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in Game 1 of the International League championship series.

Hellickson gave up a two-out home run to John Rodriguez in the seventh and left the game. His totals included five hits allowed, one walk and -- departing from recent history -- only six strikeouts. Hellickson had at least nine Ks in five straight starts.

Michel Hernandez hit a two-run single in the sixth to make it 4-0. Henry Mateo scored twice.

Game 2 is Wednesday.

Rays minor leaguer suspended for drugs

Outfielder Waldo Rosario of Tampa Bay's team in the Dominican Summer League has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. His suspension will start next year. Rosario hit .258 with a team-high 16 stolen bases in 47 games this season.

Rays release 2010 schedule, will visit Atlanta

The Rays start the 2010 season with an April 6 home game against the Baltimore Orioles to begin a six-game homestand. The schedule includes a three-game, mid-June, midweek series in Atlanta that does not conflict with a Biscuits home game.

6-8 Baltimore
9-11 N.Y. Yankees
12-14 at Baltimore
16-19 at Boston
20-22 at Chicago White Sox
23-25 Toronto
27-28 Oakland
29-30 Kansas City

1-2 Kansas City
4-6 at Seattle
7-9 at Oakland
10-12 at L.A. Angels
14-16 Seattle
17-18 Cleveland
19-20 at N.Y. Yankees
21-23 at Houston
24-26 Boston
27-30 Chicago White Sox
31 at Toronto

1-2 at Toronto
4-6 at Texas
8-10 Toronto
11-13 Florida
15-17 at Atlanta (Tuesday-Thursday)
18-20 at Florida
22-24 San Diego
25-27 Arizona
29-30 at Boston

1-4 at Minnesota
5-7 Boston
8-11 Cleveland
12-14 All-Star break (game at L.A. Angels)
16-18 at N.Y. Yankees
19-21 at Baltimore
23-25 at Cleveland
26-29 Detroit
30-31 N.Y. Yankees

1 N.Y. Yankees
2-5 Minnesota
6-8 at Toronto
9-11 at Detroit
13-15 Baltimore
16-18 Texas
19-22 at Oakland
23-25 at L.A. Angels
27-29 Boston
30-31 Toronto

1 Toronto
3-5 at Baltimore
6-8 at Boston
10-12 at Toronto
13-15 N.Y. Yankees
17-19 L.A. Angels
20-23 at N.Y. Yankees
24-26 Seattle
27-29 Baltimore
30-Oct. 3 at Kansas City

Crabs fall in Game 3; Yankees one win from title

With the potential tying runs in scoring position, Reid Fronk struck out looking and Emeel Salem grounded out to end the Charlotte Stone Crabs' 3-1 loss to the Tampa Yankees on Monday.

The Yankees moved within one win of the Florida State League championship. The Crabs host Game 4 on Tuesday.

The Crabs didn't score until the ninth when Ryan Royster singled in Matt Sweeney. Starter Alex Cobb took the loss with six innings of one-run ball.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Southern League sets championship series

The Jacksonville Suns and Tennessee Smokies will play this week for the Southern League championship.

The Suns finished off a semifinal sweep of the Birmingham Barons and the Smokies sealed a four-game victory over the Huntsville Stars on Sunday.

Tennessee last won the league championship in 2004 when it shared honors with Huntsville after Hurricane Ivan canceled the championship series. Jacksonville last won in 2005 when it beat the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in four games.

Tuesday: at Jacksonville, 6:05 CDT
Wednesday: at Jacksonville, 6:05
Thursday: travel day
Friday: at Tennessee, 6:15
Saturday: at Tennessee, if necessary, 6:15
Sunday: at Tennessee, if necessary, 4

Birmingham's Jonathan Nelson has been named the Southern League's general manager of the year. Nelson is in his 17th year of professional baseball and fifth leading the Barons.

Alabamian named top Atlanta minor-league pitcher

Huntsville native Craig Kimbrel has been named Atlanta's organizational pitcher of the year, while outfielder Jason Heyward is the Braves' player of the year. Kimbrel was at Wallace State-Hanceville Community College and had signed with Alabama before being drafted last year. Both Kimbrel and Heyward were with the Mississippi Braves this season.

Gadsden native Kyle Cofield won the pitcher's award for Mississippi. Outfielder Matt Young was Mississippi's top position player.

The Braves, who announced the awards Monday, host the winners Friday for a pregame autograph session and ceremony.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Crabs take Game 2; FSL series tied 1-1

Matt Sweeney was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Charlotte Stone Crabs to an 8-2 win over the Tampa Yankees in Game 2 of the Florida State League championship series.

The best-of-5 series is tied 1-1. The Crabs host the rest of the series, starting with Game 3 Monday.

Jeremy Hall allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings for the victory. John Matulia knocked in two runs and Greg Sexton scored twice.

Durham to play for championship

Paul Phillips won in his second career start and Durham advanced to the International League finals with a 5-3 victory at Louisville.

The Bulls host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday for Game 1 of the finals.

Justin Ruggiano was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Matt Joyce scored twice. Phillips' five-inning workload included two runs on four hits, no walks and six strikeouts.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Crabs fall in championship series opener

Jake McGee gave up two runs in two innings to take the loss in the opening game of the Florida State League championship series. Daniel Brewer had two RBIs to lead the Tampa Yankees to a 5-2 victory over the Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Reliever Jesse Darcy allowed one run in four innings behind McGee. Game 2 is Sunday in Tampa with the rest of the series, starting with Monday's Game 3, hosted by the Crabs.

Bulls lose Game 4; final game Sunday

Rayner Oliveros allowed five runs in one-plus inning and the Louisville Bats beat Durham 10-7 in Game 4 of an International League semifinal playoff series. The decisive Game 5 is Sunday.

Michel Hernandez hit a three-run home run in a four-run second that gave Durham a 4-2 lead. Louisville answered with four runs in the bottom of the second.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cromer, Ruggiano lead Bulls to Game 3 victory

Jason Cromer allowed two runs in six innings and Justin Ruggiano was 3-for-4 in Durham's 4-2 win over Louisville in Game 3 of an International League semifinal playoff series. The Bulls can advance to the championship series with a win Saturday at Louisville.

The Charlotte Stone Crabs were rained out in the first game of the Florida State League championship series. Game 1 will be Saturday at Tampa and Game 2 on Sunday at Tampa. The Crabs host Game 3 and any further games, starting Sunday.

Atlanta farmhand top player in minors

Outfielder Jason Heyward, who faced the Biscuits with the Mississippi Braves, has been named Baseball America's minor-league player of the year.

Newmann, Crabs crawl into championship series

David Newmann totaled a career-high 10 strikeouts and the Charlotte Stone Crabs beat Fort Myers 3-2 tonight in the decisive game of a Florida State League semifinal playoff series.

Charlotte advanced to the championship and will play the Tampa Yankees for the title. Game 1 is Friday at Tampa. Games 3-5 will be in Port Charlotte, starting Sunday.

Newmann gave up four hits, walked one and surrendered a run in the fifth inning. He had a 16-inning shutout streak to end the regular season.

Mike McCormick hit a two-run single in the second inning and Drew Anderson added an unearned run in the fifth to make it 3-0. After the Miracle pulled within one, Richard De Los Santos worked the final 2 1/3 innings to save it. In the eighth, Fort Myers had two on and one out before De Los Santos posted two strikeouts to snuff out the threat.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bats, bats unkind for Durham in Game 2

Chris Valaika knocked in two runs and Todd Frazier scored twice in the Louisville Bats' 5-2 win over the Durham Bulls tonight. The Bats tied the best-of-5 International League semifinal playoff series at one game each.

Desmond Jennings and Rashad Eldridge scored in the first inning for Durham, which had three hits in the first inning and three combined in the final eight.

Mitch Talbot allowed three runs in three-plus innings. The first four Bats reached against Talbot in the fourth. Louisville scored three runs in the fourth to take the lead and added two in the fifth.

Rays' Pena fine after surgery

Rays first baseman Carlos Pena had successful surgery today in St. Petersburg, Fla., on the two broken fingers he suffered Monday. Dr. Doug Carlan also inserted pins into Pena' left index and middle fingers. Pena is expected to be fully recovered well in advance of spring training.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hellickson continues K party in Durham win

Joe Dillon, Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez had two RBIs each in Durham's playoff-opening 8-4 victory over Louisville tonight. Game 2 is Thursday.

Jeremy Hellickson didn't factor in the decision, allowing three hits, three walks and three runs, including two home runs, in 5 2/3 innings. The Bulls took the lead with a five-run sixth.

Hellickson did, however, total 12 strikeouts. He has whiffed 53 in his last five starts, covering 32 2/3 innings.

Crabs stave off elimination, force decisive Game 3

Alex Cobb allowed one run in five innings and the Charlotte Stone Crabs stayed alive in the Florida State League playoffs, beating Fort Myers 7-4 tonight. Game 3 of the best-of-3 semifinal series will be Thursday.

Drew Anderson was 3-for-5, while Ryan Royster scored twice and had an RBI. Royster and Emeel Salem reached base three times each. Six different Crabs knocked in runs.

Niemann serves up Yankee history

Jeffrey Niemann just wormed his way into Yankee history by serving up Derek Jeter's 2,721st career hit. That ties Jeter with Lou Gehrig for the Yanks' team record for hits. Jeter has three hits tonight.

UPDATE: Niemann took a shutout into the eighth and left after giving up a leadoff single. The bullpen ... how to phrase this? ... the bullpen hit Chernobyl levels.

Abreu named Durham's pitcher of the year

The Rays haven't said who wins their annual minor-league awards, but we apparently know one victor.

Right-hander Winston Abreu is Durham's pitcher of the year, according to a Bulls release announcing the team's postseason roster. Abreu was 3-1 with a 1.94 ERA in 37 appearances this year. He allowed just 23 hits in 51 innings, walked 16 and struck out 77.

The Rays annually honor a minor-league hitter and pitcher of the year, plus name a top hitter and pitcher for each of their affiliates. They spread the wealth, so the organizational winners won't double-up and win a team award, too. The Rays bring in the honorees for an on-field ceremony near the end of the season.

Who are your picks?

Stone Crabs fall in playoff opener

Estarlin De Los Santos came within a double of the cycle and knocked in four runs to lead Fort Myers in an 8-7 win over the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Tuesday. The Miracle took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 Florida State League playoff series. Game 2 is Wednesday in Fort Myers.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Final system check

With the Biscuits finished, here's the final system check of the year, though some of the independent leagues still have some schedule to play. The final stats package is scheduled to be in Wednesday's paper.

International League South

(83-61, first place, 2 GA)
RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who was 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA in nine starts, is scheduled to start Wednesday's playoff opener against the Louisville Bats. He ended the season with 15 straight shutout innings.
CF Desmond Jennings hit .325 with 23 runs scored and reached base 56 times in 32 games. He was 15-for-17 on steals.
LHP Jason Cromer finished 7-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 112 innings.
C John Jaso had a .266 average.
RHP Paul Phillips threw five shutout innings in his first Triple-A start Sunday. He had 2.2 shutout innings of relief in his debut last week.
RHP Heath Rollins gave up four earned runs in six innings after his promotion from Montgomery.
LHP Mike Wlodarczyk made his Triple-A debut Monday with two no-hit innings.

Florida State League South

(71-66 overall, in playoffs; 34-35 second half, second place, 3 GB)
RHP Jeremy Hall led the league in victories, finishing 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA. He started Tuesday’s playoff opener against the Fort Myers Miracle.
SS Shawn O’Malley had a .388 on-base percentage and 73 runs scored in 103 games.
LHP David Newmann was 9-6 with a 3.44 ERA.
OF John Matulia had a .278 average in 87 games.
RHP Richard De Los Santos was 2-0 with 10 saves and an 0.79 ERA in 22.2 innings.
LHP Jake McGee had a 6.45 ERA, nine walks and 26 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.
OF Reid Fronk hit .201 with four home runs, 32 RBIs and 88 strikeouts.
OF Ryan Royster hit .229 with five homers, 38 RBIs and 106 strikeouts.

South Atlantic League Southern

(64-74 overall; 30-38 second half, eighth place, 11.5 GB)
LHP Matt Moore was 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA. He gave up 86 hits in 123 innings with 70 walks and a league-best 176 strikeouts.
SS Tim Beckham hit .275 with 63 RBIs and 58 runs scored. He had 43 errors and 116 strikeouts.
RHP Chris Andujar finished 10-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 99 hits allowed in 120 innings.
OF K.D. Kang had a .390 on-base percentage in 89 games.
RHP Nick Barnese was 6-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 15 starts.

New York-Penn League McNamara

(38-37, third place, 8.5 GB)
RHP Alex Colome was 7-4 with a 1.66 ERA in 15 starts. He gave up 46 hits in 76 innings.
RHP Zach Quate, after starting his career with 20 shutout innings, allowed a run and finished with 13 saves and an 0.35 ERA in 26 innings.
LHP Kyle Lobstein finished his season with six shutout innings Saturday and was 3-5 with a 2.58 ERA.
OF Chris Murrill hit .306 with 29 steals in 49 games.
OF D.J. Jones had a .215 average.

Appalachian League East

(36-31, second place, 10.5 GB)
CF Cody Rogers was 2-for-20 in his last six games, putting his final average at .303 with 37 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 52 games.
1B Ryan Wiegand hit .324 with 24 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs. He scored 37 runs in 59 games.
RHP Deivis Mavares finished 5-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 51.1 innings.
RHP Scott Shuman had an 0.82 ERA in 22 innings.

Gulf Coast League South

(19-36, fifth place, 15 GB)
LHP Jacob Partridge had a 1.75 ERA in 36 innings with 13 walks and 39 strikeouts.
RHP Victor Mateo allowed 42 hits and had a 1.98 ERA in 50 innings.
OF Todd Glaesmann was 5-for-18 in five games after signing.

Those who strayed from the Rays

RHP Ruddy Lugo was 13-9 with a 4.07 ERA at Triple-A Toledo (Tigers). He tied for the International League lead in wins. Lugo was 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA in his last nine starts.
OF Jesus Feliciano finished with a .311 average for Triple-A Buffalo (Mets). He led the International League with 154 hits.
1B Rhyne Hughes had a .264 average in 20 games with Triple-A Norfolk (Orioles).
RHP Jean Machi had a 2.12 ERA and was 6-for-6 in save opportunities with Triple-A Indianapolis (Pirates).
IF Gabriel Martinez hit .296 in 72 games at Double-A Chattanooga (Dodgers).
CF Jason Pridie had a .265 average for Triple-A Rochester (Twins).
LHP Chris Seddon, with wins in his last two starts, was 9-8 with a 4.51 ERA for Triple-A Tacoma (Mariners).
RHP Jose Diaz had a 3.63 ERA and 10 saves at Double-A Frisco (Rangers).
RHP Jim Magrane is 14-4 with a 2.83 ERA with independent Somerset. He won the Atlantic League’s pitcher of the month award for August.
RHP Travis Minix has 12 saves and a 1.15 ERA at independent Somerset.
LHP Brian Henderson is 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA for independent Somerset.
OF Jeremy Owens is hitting .244 at independent Southern Maryland.
2B Cesar Suarez has a .271 average in 38 games with independent Lancaster.
OF Erold Andrus finished with a .302 average for independent Florence.
2B Josh Asanovich hit .285 with independent Winnipeg.
OF Joe Gaetti had a .303 average in 25 games at independent Joliet.
OF Sergio Pedroza hit .332 with 22 home runs and 90 RBIs in the independent Golden League. He and the Calgary Vipers are in the league championship series.
C Josh Arhart finished with a .325 average for independent Victoria.